Bronze for Boks: South Africa end World Cup on high

South Africa pose with their medals for third place

The Springboks finished their 2015 Rugby World Cup beating Argentina at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium 24-13 in a forgettable Bronze Final that was short on quality.

The match started brightly with Bryan Habana looking for one try to beat Jonah Lomu’s World Cup record, but in the end, fizzled into a scrappy affair under the lights in London.

South Africa kept Los Pumas scoreless in the first half and scored through tries by JP Pietersen and Eben Etzebeth either side of the break. Handre Pollard kicked 14 points for the Boks.

Pumas captain Nicolas Sanchez’s boot accounted for eight points in the second stanza as Argentina came back into the match.

A consolation try from Juan Pablo Orlandi restored some pride for the South Americans who could not repeat their 2007 victory at this stage.

The so-called “Bronze Final” is a game nobody wants to play but it is ultimately about the bottom line.

World Rugby is criticised every four years as to why this match takes place – clearly all involved (including the fans) dislike the meaningless Test.

The match started with both teams playing open running rugby, spreading the ball at every opportunity, trying to make the game entertaining as well as trying to win.

Argentina scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli was yellow carded after five minutes for a cynical foul on Ruan Pienaar; his opposite number took a quick-tap penalty, broke free but was then impeded by Cubelli as he set off.

South Africa made the numerical advantage count immediately as they  opened the scoring through Pietersen in the sixth minute. Pollard kicked a touch-line conversion.

From a driving maul the Boks attacked the Pumas’ try-line with a couple of forward drives. Pienaar then sent the ball to Willie le Roux, who drew two players before passing to Pietersen.

The winger could not be stopped by Horacio Agulla or Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino and finished in the corner for his fifth try of the tournament.

The Springboks had Habana’s sixteenth World Cup try in their minds as they looked to give him the ball wherever possible – in the first half the winger could have scored three, but it would not  be his day.

The first was not awarded after John Lacey referred to the TMO; the second, Habana could not hold onto a high pass but might have been tackled; the final attempt he was penalised for a foul chasing his own kick.

Pollard extended the Boks lead to 16-0 at the break with the two of his four penalties when Ramiro Herrera was pinged for obstruction and Sanchez went off his feet at a ruck.

Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw were immense at the breakdown, allowing the Springboks to build their lead with their poaching of the ball.

The second half was filled with errors, frustrations boiled over and a lack of composure on the ball all made for a ponderous game that was more a good-bye for retiring players.

Tomas Lavanini, Santiago Cordero and Matias Moroni crossed the gain-line almost at will as Argentina found their way back into the game.

Daniel Hourcade’s side started to dominate; their runners offloading as the Pumas won the  battle on the gain-line. Argentina crossed the gain-line 91 times to South Africa’s 50 and made double the offloads with 14.

Argentina had 90 percent possession in last ten minutes and made 100 tackles to the Boks’ 180. However, the game was won by the Springbok defence and Louw and Vermeulen’s success at the break-down.

Heyneke Meyer’s team made 14 turnovers to four and more importantly, won nine in Argentina’s half as opposed to just five in their own.

Sanchez kicked an early penalty to put the Pumas on the board but the Springboks hit back with the play of the match two minutes later.

Victor Matfield’s charge up-field included a dummy and a line-break before setting the platform for the try.

South Africa were finally clinical with an attack which stemmed from pressure and quick ball inside the opposition 22.

A ruck ten metres from the Argentina line and 15 metres in saw Pienaar pass right to his half-back partner running towards the posts.

Pollard stopped, switched left to Le Roux, who’s deft inside pass to Jesse Kriel wrong-footed the defence.

Kriel passed to Habana and with a quick-flick to Etzebeth on the touch-line to score, increased the lead to 21-3.

Pollard missed the conversion but traded penalties with Sanchez, but the game rapidly unravelled.

With the score 24-6 and edging towards the final quarter, the coaches made changes and you could feel the players motivation disintegrate while the game broke-up – no-one would have begrudged the referee blowing the game early.

The game finally did end when Orlandi burrowed from close range on the hooter, Sanchez’s conversion was the last play of the game. Now for the main event.

Final Score South Africa 24 (16) Argentina 13 (0)


South Africa
Tries – Pietersen, Etzebeth
Pen – Pollard (4)
Con – Pollard
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Orlandi
Pen – Sanchez
Con – Sanchez
Drop – Sanchez
Cards – Cubelli

Match Officials
Referee: John Lacey (IRE)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (NZL), Chris Pollock (NZL)
TMO: Graham Hughes (ENG)


South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Lodewyk de Jager, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.


15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Nicolas Sanchez (captain), 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Javier Ortega Desio, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Juan Figallo.

Replacements: 16 Lucas Noguera, 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 18 Santiago Garcia Botta, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Juan Pablo Socino.

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